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Delfeayo Marsalis

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival takes place the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May. This year's festival celebrates the healing power of music. It's a giant spectacle, with a huge turnout so far, and coming eight months after Katrina, the realization of the 2006 NOJHF makes you believe in miracles, or at least in the people who are making it happen.

Delfeayo Marsalis

In that spirit, JazzSet presents a new set from New Orleans' own Delfeayo Marsalis.

He describes the trombone as a "team instrument." And as the third brother in the Marsalis family band after Branford and Wynton, Delfeayo is definitely playing on a varsity team.

For several years in the 1990s, he played with the Elvin Jones Jazz Machine -- another top-level jazz experience.

Delfeayo is also well-cast as a leading man, as he brings his New Orleans quintet to Sculler's Jazz Club in Boston, February 4, 2006. The music comes from his first CD, Pontius Pilate's Decision... and from a coming CD which will feature the drum master, the late Elvin Jones.

Delfeayo and pianist Victor "Red" Atkins were undergraduates together at Berklee College of Music in Boston. After college, Atkins moved to New Orleans and, after Katrina, back to his home state of Alabama. Saxophonist Clarence Johnson III is a lifelong New Orleanian, now in Atlanta. Clarence played baritone sax on camera in the movie Ray. Bassist Edwin Livingston is a Texan who has worked often in New Orleans; he's now in Los Angeles. Delfeayo and drummer Jason Marsalis still live in New Orleans. Delfeayo says it's been very rough after Katrina, especially for the people without money.

Besides his excellent musicianship, Delfeayo is a playwright. He's written musicals for children (adults can enjoy them too). Two are the educational Jaz and Jazmine Meet the Jazz Band and the historical New Tale of the Old West about Native Americans. His compositions have stories and meanings too, and Delfeayo sets each up with a spoken introduction. All compositions are by Delfeayo, except where noted.

In the face of pessimism, the set opens with music of optimism: "Br'er Rabbit"
For Elvin Jones: "The Lone Warrior"
For New Orleans, in Delfeayo's words: "We want to thank all the many people who came from around the country. It's amazing... doctors, nurses, administrative people [set up] in school gymnasiums. The human spirit is an amazing sight. But we say at this point we don't need you to send any more money, we need you to send prayers, to help us deal with it.": "What a Wonderful World" (Thiele and Weiss, popularized by Louis Armstrong)
Written when David Duke was running for Governor of Louisiana: "Pontius Pilate's Decision"
Set in New Orleans, the Crescent City, in the 1870s, a composition about the fate of two indentured servants: "Lost in the Crescent"

Delfeayo Marsalis on NPR

Delfeayo Marsalis on WUNC

Field Producer Steve Schwartz of WGBH Radio, Boston
Recording Engineer Antonio Oliart-Ros
Thanks to Dayla Santurri and Fred Taylor of Sculler's Jazz Club at the Doubletree Guest Suites Hotel, Boston
JazzSet Producer Becca Pulliam, Technical Director Duke Markos, Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe III of Jazz 88, WBGO in Newark, N.J.

Copyright 2007 NPR